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Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  December 11, 2009 12:17 PM

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That's what it could be for both the Steelers' playoff hopes this season and any claim they may have had to topping the Patriots as the "Team of the Decade." Pittsburgh lost its fifth straight, falling, 13-6, to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. The loss dropped the Super Bowl champs to 6-7 overall and 1-4 in the AFC North and 4-6 in AFC play, two crucial playoff tiebreakers. 
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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news

Dearth

...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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